...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giving More Than a Cup of Water

How do we determine whether we are right or wrong to call this mere lobby a wasteful use of resources when we know that just a mile or two away, people are living life like this:

It seems to be a hot topic of politicdal debate these days. I'm not one prone to beg controversy, but I am a student of compassion and justice. No week of reflecting on wastefulness would be complete without a moment's consideration being given to the topic on a small scale--as it relates to my hobbies.

I found the following study, and while it is most likely completely true, it is also a very dry and detached source of information:

Food loss at the retail and consumer levels in the United States includes
14.8 billion pounds of fruit and 23.4 billion pounds of vegetables,
valued at $15.1 billion and $27.7 billion, respectively, in 2008 retail
market prices. The total value of these losses is $42.8 billion per year,
or roughly $141 per capita. To most efficiently reduce the annual food
loss, it may be beneficial to focus efforts on the four fruits (fresh
apples, grapes, peaches and strawberries) and four vegetables (fresh
and canned tomatoes and fresh and frozen potatoes) that have the
greatest amount of loss.
[ from a paper by: Jean C. Buzby (jbuzby@ers.usda.gov), Jeffrey Hyman (jhyman@ers.usda.gov), Hayden Stewart(hstewart@ers.usda.gov), and Hodan F.Wells (hfarah@ers.usda.gov) are economists at the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. The views expressed here are those of the authors and cannot be attributed to the Economic Research Service or the US Department of Agriculture.]

Here's the source if you'd like to read more.

Some people will do that. Read the very long document. Many will think what a shame it is--maybe even going so far as to dedicate a facebook update to lamenting it.

Here's another source of true information: my memory. My first experience with a hungry and homeless person was a winter holiday when I was just a child. I looked out the kitchen window across our frosty back yard to the burn barrel near the alley. There, an old man was shuffling through our trash. I came from a small town where people simply grew food if they couldn't afford to buy it sothe man at our barrel was an oddity to me. Not until I went back into the living room where my cozy family were watching a holiday parade on TV and mentioned my sighting of this dumpster diver did I learn about the hungry homeless. My mother jumped up and ran to look out the window, but the man was gone. She explained to me that he was hungry, and that if I should see such a person again, I should tell her quickly so we could offer him some food.

While some whose awareness is abstract might become a voice for change, others who have direct experience might become the very hands of it. They might do this:

Some might even go so far as this:

This week I'm looking at waste as a lifestyle, and today wasted food in particular--food that's not technically "spoiled" but that nevertheless makes retailers fear litigation because it is not at its peak of freshness. The issue of balancing food waste and hunger is a complex one, broad as an ocean shore. I may not be engaged at either extreme--dumpster diving to feed others or writing lengthy annotated research reports--but still, I'm putting my toe in the water, letting it splash over my feet and seeing where a walk along that beach might take me. I'm accepting that I might leave a positive footprint in the sand even if only for a little stretch and only until the next tide rises. I'd hope you'd consider doing the same.

Happy serving!

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